Playground / Park in Dragodan

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There is a beautiful new park in the Dragodan / KFOR base area, quite close to the German embassy.  There are paths in a little green wood, benches, picnic tables, work-out equipment, a life-size chess board, two play areas for kids with swings and slides and more.  Bring a picnic and enjoy a perfect afternoon.  This park area is great for all ages.

Directions: (Walking)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate to your back, turn left up the hill toward USAID.  As the road splits, bear left up the hill.  You will see the road is barricaded in front of you. Turn left and walk up the steps built into the USAID white wall.  At the top of the steps, take a right.  Walk past the guard booth / road blockade.  Continue on this road until you see the German embassy on your right.  The playground is directly to your left, through a few trees.  It will take 15 minutes to walk to.  Since there are steps, strollers are not a good idea.  Most young kids (3-4) can make the walk without trouble, if they are in a good mood!

Coordinates:  (You can paste into Google Maps) @42.669097,21.152426

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Ethnological Museum

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This is a wonderful preserved Ottoman house in the old part of Pristina.  If you haven’t been here yet, you should go!  It is very interesting and there are English translations describing each of the exhibits.

Walking Directions:  From U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a left up the hill to get to the Dragodan steps, which will be on your right.  Descend the steps and cross over the main road at the bottom (Zagrebi).  Go straight, following UCK road.  Continue through the square and cross over the main road at the other side (Agim Ramadani), straight onto (Haxhi Zeka/Ibrahaim Lutfiu).  Stay straight and the road turns into Nazim Gafurri.  Pass the clock tower on your right.  Keep an eye out for the Sultan Baklava dark red awning on your left.  It is right on the corner.  Turn left down the street directly after Sultan.  When you reach the T in the road, turn right.  The ethnological museum is on the right side of the road after a parking lot.  It is set back from the road.

Ujvara e Drinit te Bardhe Waterfall

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Directions:  (Driving)  Turn right out of Bravo Gate at the U.S. Embassy.  Go down the hill.  Take a right at the bottom of the road onto Ahmet Krasniqi.  At the first circle, take the 3rd option to get onto E-65/M-2/E-80 (toward Shkup / Viva Fresh / airport).  At the second circle, quickly take the first option toward the airport / Peje (M-9).  From here, you are staying on this road about 76 km (48 miles).  Stay with M-9, continuing toward the airport.  When the road splits at the next circle, continue with M-9 toward the airport (essentially bearing to the left).  Continue with the M-9 past the airport.  When the road splits, stay right, going toward Peje / Pec (away from Tirane).  Pass the turn off for Mallisheve.  Go through the town of Balince.  Pass through the town of Kijeve.  Pass the turn off for Gjakova.  Keep going through Zahec.  You will see a sign for Rozaje on your right.  Take this right (onto the 106).  If you pass by a red ETC on your right, you’ve gone too far.  Continue on 106, following signs for Rozaje.  You will come to a circle.  Take the second option, toward Rozaje (first option is toward Mitrovice).  Continue on 106 and you will see a sign for Ujvara e Drinit.  Then you will see a big blue and white sign that says Trofta.

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Take a left here.  Drive past the restaurant as far as you can.  Park the car and walk through the cement pylons.  The waterfall is up ahead on your right.

Coordinates: (You can paste into Google Maps) 42.738376, 20.306511

Te Ariu Restaurant & Mini Zoo

What a great place to take the kids on a rainy day or a nice day!  There are bears in a big cage outside.  Other enclosures include ostriches and a few other critters.  There is a big duck pond where kids will happily stand for a long time, tossing in bits of bread.  There is an outdoor playground for nice days and a large indoor playground as well.  Parents can sit at a table in eyesight of the playgrounds and enjoy standard Kosovar fare like shop salads, pizzas, pastas, soups, meats, etc.  There is also a full bar.  Prices are good, very reasonable.  The menu is not translated to English, but it is easy enough to figure out.  Some waiters speak some English, but as always around Pristina, they seem just fine with communicating through pointing and gesturing and you will get your food.  Seems to get very busy on weekend evenings, but a trip during a weekday will reveal plenty of space.

Price:  $$ of $$$

Driving Directions:  (~10 minutes)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Ferizaj/Viva Fresh/Maxi/Albi Mall.  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the next exit onto the M25-2, toward Gjilian.  Take a left (you will see a sign that says “Te Ariu” and has a bear on it).  Then take a quick right and pull all the way back into their parking lot.

Novo Brdo

Not too far from Pristina is Novo Brdo, a medieval fortress ruins.  This is one of those sights that is so uniquely Kosovo.  It’s a must-see.  How many places can you hike peacefully through so much history, up close and personal?  Just nearby are a very old Xhamia (mosque) and a tyrba (tomb), also just amazing to take in.

Web site:  http://tourism-novobrdo.com/

Learn more about the history before you go:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novo_Brdo

Price:  Free

Difficulty:  Easy.  No strollers, but young kids can hike with close supervision (there are some drop offs) and a surefooted adult with a baby carrier should not have a problem with a little one.

Driving Directions:  (~45 minutes to 1 hour)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Viva Fresh/Maxi (Ferizaj).  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65/Ferizaj/Shkup).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the exit onto the M25-2 toward Gjilan (as if going to Viva Fresh/Albi Mall).  At the end of the exit ramp, take a right to go under the highway.  Go straight past Viva Fresh.  When the road forks a little, stay to the right.  Continue through Gracanica, straight past the monastery.  Continue on the road, past Lake Bodovcit.  Go through the town of Silvovo, through the small town of Progovac.  Very shortly after you see the sign for Llabjan, you will be making a left onto R123, toward Novo Brdo.  The sign says “Novo Brdo.”  After making the left, continue on the road, following arrows on signposts which point you up and around the mountain toward the Kalaja (fortress/castle).  There will be a flat place to park quite close to the castle.  Park and explore!

Lake Badovc (Liqeni i Badovcit)

Sometimes you just want to see beautiful water!  Lake Badovcit is close, big, and really nice.  It is a big reservoir, but in the summer months you will see people fishing and swimming and hiking.  Kids can throw rocks, catch fish and frogs, and wade in.  Who could ask for a better day?  Bring a picnic lunch and make an afternoon of it.

Tip:  Close to both Gracanica Monastery and Ulpiana archaeological dig site.

Driving Directions:  (~20 minutes)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Ferizaj (Viva Fresh/Maxi).  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the exit onto the M25-2 toward Gjilian (as if going to Viva Fresh/Albi Mall).  At the end of the exit ramp, take a right to go under the highway.  Go straight past Viva Fresh.  When the road forks a little, stay to the right.  Continue through Gracanica.  As you drive past Gracanica a few km, you will see the lake on your left hand side.  There are trails down to the lake.  Find a convenient spot to park and trek down to the water.

Funland: Kids’ Indoor Playground at Albi Mall

On the top floor of Albi Mall, right next to the food court, there is Funland!  This indoor playground for kids is the best one of its kind in Pristina.  There are ball pits, slides, trampolines, rocking chairs, and other fun things.  There are two sides, one for kids above three and one for the little guys.  The equipment is new-looking, clean, and well maintained.  There are some coin-operated ride on machines around as well, though many bear the out of order sign (“nuk punon.”)  You can leave the kids there with the Funland babysitter, or you can kick off your shoes and play with your children.  It can get crowded on the weekends, but during the week, it is a fun and easy trip.  Very good fun for a rainy or too-hot day!

Price: 1.50 euro per hour

Driving Directions:  (~10 minutes)  Starting at U.S. Embassy Bravo gate, take a right to go down the hill and take a right onto the main road (Ahmet Krasniqi).  At the first circle, go around and take the last option, toward Viva Fresh/Maxi/Albi Mall.  At the next circle, take the second option to continue straight through the circle (M2/E65).  Stay straight until you pass Albi Mall on the left hand side.  Take the next exit onto the M25-2.  You are going to have to loop around and get on the highway going in the opposite direction.  At the end of the exit ramp, take a right to go under the highway.  Take a left onto the ramp getting back on the highway.  Keep your eyes peeled as you pass the gas station on your right.  As soon as you are able, take the right hand turn and then another right into the Albi Mall parking lot.  Go to the top floor for Funland.

Or:  Hail a cab.  Prices are about 3 euro one way from Pristina.